Did you know that thyroid gland disease is a surprisingly common problem in older cats? The thyroid gland consists of two tiny lobes, one located either side of the trachea (windpipe).
The gland produces thyroid hormone which regulates your cat’s metabolism. Too much thyroid hormone speeds up the metabolism, whilst too little slows it down. Overproduction of the thyroid hormone is called hyperthyroidism and is a relatively common condition in cats over 8 years of age. In the majority of cases this is caused by a benign ( non cancerous) enlargement of one or both thyroid lobes. Hyperthyroid cats typically have an increased appetite, but despite this commonly show signs of weight loss, and often become quite unkempt in appearance.
In addition, excess thyroid hormone usually increases the heart rate, potentially leading to abnormal thickening of the heart muscle and increased blood pressure. As well as the above, a variety of other signs may be seen including increased activity, more vocalization, and often, a greater need for affection. Vomiting and diarrhoea may also be seen. However, the good news is that in the majority of cases, hyperthyroidism can be successfully treated.
If you are concerned that your cat is showing any of the signs described above, please come and see us for an appointment!